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To Be or To AirBnB?

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Written by: Dolores Hark
Date posted: 3 September 2015

Okay, cheesy title, but I could not resist! Today I’d like to write about the pros and cons of my own personal Airbnb experiences.

Here are the good things:

It’s (Usually) Fun or at Least Not Not Fun

Wow – I just had more than 30 + people through my place in about two months! That was pretty fun but will vary in it’s appeal, depending on your own personality and how much you like to deal with total strangers being in your home.

Extra Cash

During these couple months I’ve been able to make a decent amount of money, but in my personal case my per hour rate is pretty low and it is definitely not an amount any person could live on.

My place is small so it is not totally lucrative by any means, especially since I’ve generally been pricing on the lower end with a goal to increase my occupancy rate. Also, I am guessing my occupancy will now drastically drop off because the tourist high season has now passed.

Also, comparatively speaking it is going to be more time intensive if you are in the space with guests for two key reasons:

1) I tend to spend time helping my guests with tourist questions and also I have spent time socializing with a few as well. The more contact you have, the more time you will spend with your guests.

2) Cleaning time increases if you are in the same space because you will become the default house keeper. I’ve read about other cases where guests clean after they leave, but this usually happens when the guests have rented the whole place and can avoid the cleaning fee by cleaning the place.

If you are allowing people to use your kitchen, you will then probably end up cleaning / tidying it at least daily, especially when you have multiple guest parties and one of them is messy. Same for the bathroom if it is a shared situation.

I can’t say I have a lot of faith in prices trending upward either during the next 9 months or so, as more people jump on board. That is how it goes with what is basically an auction-like situation with highly dynamic pricing.

Oh My! My Place is Actually CLEAN

Somehow, I will not clean for myself, but if I know a guest is on the way, it is ALL I can think about!

The Not So Great Things About AirBnB’ing:

Out of Pocket Costs

In the years running up to my AirBnB type, I had not shopped much! I think I had two towels which I owned since 2007 and two towels that I literally found here when I moved in that were here to make the place look lived in.

It was sort of like I needed to give myself my own ‘shower’ of gifts. New sheets, blankets, towels, duvets, and on and on. So that was sort of fun. Now I feel like a real grown up with two fully furnished and functioning bedrooms and matching towel sets!

Even prior to that I actually spent quite a bit of time tweaking things, like putting in the locks, stripping and re-grouting the bathroom, planting a decent looking front garden, painting, and so forth.

Loss of Privacy

Because of some of the marketing tactics employed by AirBnB, you may find you have a guest who considers you a personal tour guide, or perhaps concierge, or finds you terribly rude for not cooking for them. It CAN sort of be like having your family around as visitors in your home, but they are also your customers and they are always right, as the saying goes. Even when they decide to wake you up at 3 a.m. because they think you won’t mind – and they are the customer and they are always right – and they will expect you to smile and greet them happily at 3 a.m. – because they are your new bestie / bro/ and your customer – so it’s alright, right?

High Taxes

The combined city and state tax for the type of business itself is quite high at a ripping 16.5 percent, just on top of everything else. Since only the city portion automatically included, I basically need to be charging the state portion to every guest but now I am covering it in the rate – not good… so that is an additional $6.75 per $50 gross for my location, or $135 per 1K – a nice big hit. It would be better if I could set this myself to immediately charge it back to customers, which you can in other systems beyond AirBnB, but I am not sure about all cases.

Beyond this, I do believe all the other regular taxes also apply, on a personal income basis, but I am not a tax expert at all.

So, to Be or to AirBnB?

Whether this is worth it then comes down to the alternate uses of your time and alternate compensation opportunities and if you are sharing your space – whether you are up for the loss of privacy and extra time you might end up spending with guests because of this co-habitation-like situation.

In my case I probably should not have been doing Airbnb from a purely economic perspective as I’d be better off doing other types of work, compared to compensation received via Airbnb, which was probably only about $10 per hour, at about 20 hours per week. This is not even addressing the cost side of the equation or the time I spent during the setting up phases. Again, however, my hourly rate was eroded during times I found myself cleaning daily due to sharing space directly with guests, especially in the kitchen, which I have now cut access to, so we will see if I can make any improvements on my hourly. Also, some guests can be quite time demanding, although you always have the option to decline to socialize of course.

This is pretty drastically different from the results I’ve seen reported others. For instance, a person with more property to let and who did not live in the rented units was able to pull down around $50-60 per hour, but also reported that it is more time intensive and requires greater out of pocket costs than just normal renting and by no means should be viewed as a passive income source.

It was pretty fun so I will keep at it on a part-time basis when it is convenient and does not disturb my regular work schedule. However, at this time I only have a few dates listed, just a week or two out so that I can still maintain some flexibility with my own schedule, although there is no doubt I cut down on bookings when I don’t have more of a long-term schedule available, but that is where my comfort level is at, at this time.

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